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KNIGHT: The IRS conspiracy killers in the news media
Administration’s admirers spin up a protective wall
Question of the Day
Over at The Washington Post, however, print readers had to go 19 pages deep to “The Fed Page,” a union-style newsletter for federal employees. If The Post had buried the story any deeper, it would have been wedged into the classifieds or crumpled up in a backyard mulch barrel.
Here’s how The New York Times handled the story:
“The House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to hold Lois Lerner, a former Internal Revenue Service official accused by Republicans of abusing power, in contempt, laying bare the bitter divide over which much of the midterm elections will be fought.”
When Republicans do something, it’s political. When Democrats do something, it’s to save the planet.
The paper noted that the House was to vote Thursday to create a select committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack and allegations of a cover-up. Again, the spin: “Republicans have raised a delicate set of questions and opened themselves up to accusations that they are politicizing a tragedy that cost four Americans their lives and misusing congressional oversight authority for gain in an election year.”
Do you hear that? It wasn’t the people who got four Americans killed or who covered their own butts with brazen lies for the past two years who are on the hot seat. It’s the ones trying to get to the truth.
The New York Times authors buttressed the IRS portion of their political scenario with a quote from Ms. Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, who you can easily picture making an eloquent case that cigarettes are good for you:
“Today’s vote has nothing to do with the facts or the law. Its only purpose is to keep the baseless IRS ‘conspiracy’ alive through the midterm elections.”
Baseless? Well, lawyers are paid to say such things, but journalists are paid to report as objectively as possible — in theory. Which is why we need to ask media outlets why they ignored the other big story on the front page of The Washington Times: “GOP finds 10 percent of tea party donors audited.”
“Twenty-four conservative groups were asked for their donor lists,” explains reporter Stephen Dinan. “The IRS initially told Congress that those lists were destroyed, but when they went through their files, they discovered three lists that weren’t destroyed.”
What did IRS officials do with those donor lists? They subjected one in 10 donors to audits, “substantially higher than the average rate of 1 percent of average Americans who are audited each year.” Can you imagine the media coverage if union members were singled out at a 10 to 1 rate? Maybe the story is somewhere in The Post’s mulch pile.
The new information arose during a House hearing at which IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was told about the lists. So it was quite public.
Getting back to New York, the Gotham paper did quote House Speaker John A. Boehner, who said of the Benghazi select committee, “This is not going to be a circus.”
Democrats responded with mockery. “It is a circus,” said Rep. Jackie Speier of California. “Psychologists will tell you that when somebody says something is not, it clearly is.”
About the Author
Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.
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